Garden Pesto

Happy Monday!  I mentioned in my last post that PJ had started a garden in our little back patio.  Since I’ve managed to kill off every basil plant I’ve ever owned, I’m glad to have his green thumb.  Here’s a view of our garden (and PJ).  There’s a mystery plant in that concrete planter in the  back corner!  It’s growing super quickly, you can see how high it is getting.  PJ thinks that it is rhubarb.

20130506-172016.jpg

So far, the basil and parsley plants are ready to be used.  Last night, I made a rough pesto that I put over pearl couscous.  It’s a bigger grain than regular couscous, but I think that it’s more delicious.  I thought that it came out very good—and was great again for lunch today!

20130506-172500.jpgGarden Pesto

1) Cook couscous according to package directions.

2) In a food processor, combine a handful of fresh parsley and basil, 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, and 2 garlic cloves.

3) Once it is roughly chopped, add 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

4) Combine with cooked couscous.  Top if grated cheese if desired.

Source: Adapted from Giada’s Kitchen

Now that we have a street-level door, this is the view people see when they walk by my house.

20130506-172538.jpg

Advertisements

A girl, a cat, and a new kitchen

I am getting back on the wagon! My goal is to blog at least once a week, so feel free to hold me accountable if I start falling short.

Several exciting things have happened since I last wrote. I bought a house, got engaged and upgraded to a new kitchen!  The cat is the same, she says hello.

20130429-220419.jpg

We have been working on a lot of fun house projects that I would like to share as time goes on. Here is a painting project that we are doing. The left is my bedroom and the right is the wall against the stairway.

20130429-191804.jpg

PJ is so much better in the kitchen than me and he started a garden, so I hope to share some good recipes over the next few months. I was thinking of posting a new coffee cake recipe, but it ended up in an epic disaster. This is why I shouldn’t try to accomplish these things at 530am before work.

20130429-172444.jpg

I will leave you with a lovely picture of our new neighborhood. Thanks for reading!
20130429-172234.jpg

p.s. We also want to send our thoughts and prayers to Boston.

20130429-212442.jpg

What to do with the very last of the tomatoes…

I realize that it’s mid-October and I should have posted these tomato recipes earlier in the summer.  I should probably be posting some sort of pumpkin spice something.  But, I got one last delivery of tomatoes in the farm share not too long ago, so here are a few things to do with the very last of the tomatoes.

First, roasted tomatoes.  I kept seeing these mentioned all over the place this summer and finally decided to try them.  Basically, you slice tomatoes and mix with some olive oil, salt, pepper and a little sugar.  Bake at 350 till they are nearly carmelizing at the edges.  Delicious.

One possible use for roasted tomatoes is in an easy salad for lunch for dinner.  The following recipe uses soba noodles, which are another new discovery of mine.  They are made from buckwheat flour, and are pretty tasty.  This salad could use a whole variety of vegetables, whatever you have in stock.  I think that the addition of chickpeas adds some protein, which I for one, definitely don’t do a very good job of eating enough.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Directions

Combine:

  • cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • soba noodles, cooked per package directions
  • sprinkling of thyme
  • fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Source: A Couple of Cooks

How cozy does this kitten look!  Quite the life.

Lemon basil cookies for the end of summer….flowers for the beginning of fall

I’ll be honest, the only reason why I saved this recipe was because sometimes I end up with an overwhelming amount of basil from the farm share.  That being said, this recipe way exceeded my expectations.  These are delicious.  Kind of a sweet and savory mixture which was really unique.  If you have any basil left over from the summer, consider making these today.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Ingredients
1 stick of butter, room temp.
6 oz. (3/4 cup, 1 tbsp) sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped basil
7 oz. (1 3/4 cup) flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

(note: I’ve read that weight measurements tend to result in better tasting baked goods.  I don’t know how true that is, but for this recipe, the amounts for sugar and flour were kind of weird, so I did weigh them out)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the egg, vanilla, lemon zest and basil.

3. Add the flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.

4. Spoon dough onto a lined baking sheet.

5. Bake for about 8 to 12 minutes.

Source: Branny Boils Over

Other summer news:  Look at this fun yellow watermelon I ended up with!  Not as strong tasting as a red watermelon, but a little bit sweeter.

And finally, I realize tomorrow is October, which means it is definitely fall by now.  Here is a picture of the cat attacking my fall tablescape.    I don’t think Sandra Lee would approve.

Cherry Bruschetta

Remember the strawberry brushetta I shared a while back?  This is a very similar concept–except with cherries.  I made it to bring to my good friend Heather’s (hi Heather!) house for a summer barbeque.  I thought they came out pretty tasty—nice and refreshing for the summer.  A word of wisdom I will leave you with—-this recipe called for jicama.  I had never used jicama before and the labels were wrong at the Giant, so I bought a big thing of ginger instead.  You probably don’t want to cut up big pieces of ginger for these!  I ended up not using jicama.  Maybe next time…

Enjoy!  and thanks for reading.

Ingredients
1 cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped jicama (I omitted)
1 medium scallion, sliced
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
4 ox. soft goat cheese
18 baguette slices, lightly toasted

Directions:

Combine the cherries, jicama, scallion and vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.

On each baguette, spread a layer of goat cheese.  Top with the cherry mixture.
Source: Annie’s Eats.  Original source: Fine Cooking, May 2010

Look who got a new argyle collar!  She loves it.

Tomato Cobbler

I’ve probably had this recipe saved for about a year…..just waiting for tomato season!  If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I love biscuits, so any excuse to combine biscuits with a vegetable and call it dinner/lunch, seems like a great idea to me.  These cherry tomatoes  came in my farm share box the other week, so it seemed like the perfect time to try the recipe.  The original recipe called for gruyere cheese in the biscuit topping, but since I wanted PJ to try these, I had to leave the cheese out.  Either way—they were worth the wait.   The caramelized onions especially added a tasty touch to the roasted tomatoes.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
2-3 lbs cherry or grape tomatoes
3 tbsp all-purpose flower
salt and pepper

For the biscuits–
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp  salt
8 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup grated gruyere cheese (I had to omit)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used whole milk)

Directions

1. In a large skillet, combine the oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and let them cook down and caramelize—about 20-25 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

2. When they are caramelized, add the garlic and thyme and cook about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

3.  When they are cool, combine the onion mixture, tomatoes, flour, salt and pepper.  Set aside while you prepare the biscuit topping.

4.  For the biscuit topping–combine the flour, baking power and salt.  Add the cold, cubed butter—either use a food processor or use your hands to break up the butter into small pieces.   Add the cheese (if using) and pour the cream in.  Mix the cream into the dry ingredients to make a soft dough.

5.  Pour the tomato mixture into a 9 x 13 in. baking dish.  Using a large spoon, scoop the biscuit dough into clumps on top.  Bake at 375 for about one hour and 10 minutes.  The tomatoes will be bubbling and the biscuits are golden.  Let cool.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Someone else has been waiting forever to try this too….

Greek Panzanella

I made this for the first time last summer and have been waiting all year for fresh tomatoes to make it again.  It’s really delicious and very summery.  One of the nicest things about this recipe is that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand (i.e. whatever showed up in your farm share that week!).  My favorite part are the cubes of bread—definitely don’t skimp on these.  If I was left up to my own devices I would probably just soak the bread in the dressing, but alas, a girl should probably eat her vegetables.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Ingredients
3 cups (or so) diced bread
1 cucumber/zucchini/squash, diced
1 or 2 peppers, diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced.
2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
feta cheese
olives (I omitted)

Directions
1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When it’s hot, add the diced bread and season with salt and pepper.  Stirring frequently, toast the bread till it’s browned, about 5-10 minutes.  Let cool.

2. Combine the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and red onion.

3.  In a small container, whisk together the garlic, red wine vinegar, oregano, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.  While whisking, add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil.  (If this seems like it would be a lot of dressing for your veggies, you could cut it in half).

4.  Add the feta, olives and bread to the vegetables.  Pour the vinaigrette over the top and mix to combine.  Let it rest for about 30 minutes to let all the flavors develop.

It lasts for a while, so it’s good to enjoy for lunch.

Source: Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?

 

Also, if anyone is in the Baltimore area and is looking to adopt a cat, I discovered this cat rescue over the weekend: Lucky Cat Rescue

They seems like a really well-run organization and have many pretty kittens and cats up for adoption.  They are also looking for volunteers to foster cats.  If you are interested–please check them out!

Everyone should be as lucky as this cat with her very own fort!

 

 

Gougéres

I have had my eyes on making these guys for the longest time.  The one thing keeping me back was that they called for Gruyere cheese, which is not the cheapest cheese at my local Giant.  It took a trip to the brand new Wegmans in Columbia with my friend Betsy for me to make the splurge.  I bought the cheese, went to see Magic Mike, and then made these little cheese puffs when I came home from the movie, I didn’t want to wait any longer.  I know that most people don’t start a baking project at 10pm, but I like to think of it as one of my secret single behaviors, like Carrie Bradshaw would say.  I don’t think I could get away with that behavior once I don’t live alone.  At least the cat is ok with it.

Enjoy!  And thank you for reading.

Ingredients
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
5 large eggs, room temp.
1 1/2 cup grated Gruyere

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, water and butter to boil.  Once it is boiling, add all of the flour and lower the heat.

2. Begin stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon.  It will begin to come together as dough.  Keep stirring for another minute, until the dough is very smooth.

3. Turn the heat off and put the dough into a sturdy bowl.  Let the dough rest for a minute, then add the eggs one at the time.  Stir vigorously between each addition and make sure that each egg is incorporated before you add the next.  The dough will look super wet and like it is breaking apart.  Just keep stirring and it’ll be ok.

4. Once all the eggs are added, stir in the grated cheese.  As soon as it is incorporated, you have to spoon out the dough.   Spoon out about 1 tablespoon of dough onto the prepared baking sheets.  Leave about 2 inches in between each scoop.

5. Put into the oven, turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for 12 minutes.  Then rotate the cookie sheets and bake for another 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool before serving.

Freezing Directions: If you don’t want to bake them all at once, they freeze really well.  Just scoop them out and put a baking sheet into the freezer for a little bit.  When they are frozen, put into a plastic bag and keep in the freeze (I actually froze that above tray).

Source: Dori Greenspan’s Around My French Table

Granola—to go along with Greek yogurt

When I was a junior in college, I had the opportunity to take a trip to Greece with my aunt.  Besides the amazing scenery (see below), one of the things I remember the most was the delicious food.  I don’t think that feta cheese or olives have ever tasted so good as they did there.  One of the other foods that I remember trying was the Greek yogurt that was served each morning for breakfast.  I can barely choke down regular yogurt (texture thing), but I remember really liking the texture and flavor of Greek yogurt.  Lo and behold, more than 5 years later (ee!), Greek yogurt has become the hip new thing.  I’ve figured out that I really like Greek yogurt for breakfast, mixed with fruit and granola.

Not every day of course….a girl has to work some cinnamon roll scones into the breakfast rotation.

I found a recipe that I really like for making granola at home, instead of buying it at the store.  I suppose that it’s probably more cost effective, but my real motivation is being able to choose what goes in it.  It takes too much time to pick out all the raisins in some store-bought granola if you don’t want to eat them (true story).  Enjoy!  And thank you for reading.

Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup walnuts,  chopped coarse
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds (I omitted)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I omitted)
1 cup raisins (I omitted)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey

Directions
1. Preheat your over to 325 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats and the mixture of nuts and/coconut that you want to include.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil, maple syrup and honey.  Once it is warm (not boiling), pour over the oat and nut mixture and stir to coat.

4. Spread the mixture over a rimmed cookie sheet.  Make sure that it is as evenly distributed as possible.

5. Bake for about a total of 15 minutes, until the granola is lightly browned.  Make sure to stir every 5 minutes as it is baking.

6. When the granola is finished cooking, removed from the oven and mix in the raisins if you are using them.

7. Let the granola cool and use a wooden spoon to break it up into small pieces.  Store in an airtight container.

Source: The America’s test Kitchen Family Cookbook

there are even cats in Greece!